Light and savory, this all-time favorite Italian dessert just melts in your mouth. Its sweet, creamy texture in combination with fresh tart berries, lemon zest, and strips of mint not only looks beautiful and elegant on a plate but also tastes divine.
This dessert is ideal for entertaining because all of the elements can be assembled one or two days in advance and it makes a spectacular presentation. Invite your guests to participate in the final steps of assembling Panna Cottas. You can pair it with any of your favorite garnishes, from sweet caramel sauce to fresh tart berries with orange/lemon zest and honey drizzle to intricate sea salt.
I am a big fan of the Food Network channel. If I could, I would watch its marathons of cooking shows all day long. This particular recipe was adapted from its star Ina Garten. I have a lot of respect for her as she is always so motherly and her recipes are full-proof. I slightly altered the original recipe to my liking.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin into 1 ½ tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together ¾ cup of the cream, yogurt and vanilla extract then set aside.
Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds with a knife and set aside. I use FRONTIER’s Vanilla Beans from Papua New Guinea with a fruity and floral taste (but any other mildly flavored vanilla beans will work in the recipe). It’s expensive, but is money well spent. When the seeds are whisked into the cream mixture it flavors the dessert so nicely and gives that beautiful look with the seed seen in every spoonful. It doesn’t overpower the Panna Cotta but gives it that extra oomph!!!
In a small saucepan combine the remaining ¾ cup of cream and 1/3 cup of sugar then add the vanilla seeds and stirring occasionally with the whisk try to break down the seeds and dissolve the sugar, bring it all to a simmer over medium-low heat.
Once it simmers remove the saucepan from the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve (whisk quickly to make sure that gelatin is dissolved completely).
Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.
Divide the mixture among 4 (6 to 8-ounce) ramekins or any other cups you have in your kitchen (you can use custard cups, wine glasses, cocktail or martini glasses) and let it stand for 10-15 minutes (very important for it to settle in) before placing it in your refrigerator uncovered.
The dessert already has plenty of sweetness to it, and to offset that I like to garnish it with fresh berries, a touch of lemon zest, and some fresh mint strips (you can drizzle lightly with honey) or serve it with orange segments and a touch of lemon/orange zest to add some fresh bite to its flavor.
Your guests will be so impressed!
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Berries & Honey
recipe detailsServes 4 to 6
- ½ packet (1 teaspoon) unflavored gelatin powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons cold water
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream, divided
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- ¼ to 1/3 cup of sugar (it depends how sweet you would like it to be)
- 4 cups of mixed fresh berries
- 4-5 fresh mint leaves, cut in thin strips
- Freshly grated lemon zest or orange zest, for serving
- oranges, segmented (optional)
- Honey (optional)